Patriots

Patriots

The play never gets old (if you're a New England Patriots fan, anyway).

With 26 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIX and the Seahawks threatening to score the go-ahead touchdown, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped a slant route to intercept Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line and clinch an improbable 28-24 win for New England.

 

So, how did Butler anticipate the play so well, and how did he know to make a bee-line toward the ball?

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NBC Sports' Liam McHugh asked Butler on Tuesday night during NBC Sports Network's re-broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX, and the now-Tennessee Titans cornerback admitted he thought Seattle would run the ball just like everyone else.

But Butler also noticed a subtle tell from Wilson.

 

"I learned a long time ago, if the quarterback is throwing the ball, I guess he’s going to favor the receiver or look at him or see what’s going on in the area," Butler told McHugh, "and I just felt like Wilson was just looking a little bit too much. And I think I just caught a little whiff of what he was going to do.

"So I just stared at my receiver and said if my receiver plants on the outside, I’m just going to go and just hope the ball is there. And when he planted, I took off. I just (saw) the ball and the ball was coming so fast I didn’t know how to catch it."

Butler also was uniquely prepared for the moment: The Patriots' scout team had run a similar passing play in practice leading up to Super Bowl week and actually beat Butler for a touchdown.

 

The undrafted rookie wouldn't make the same mistake twice, however, showing great anticipation and instinct to make one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.